Make Me: Chana Masala

The way that I eat is not really that different from the way I dress, if that makes sense.

No, of course it doesn’t. I mean the way that I shop for food is not that different from the way that I shop for clothes or housewares, and I take my stance on ethics and quality with me to the grocery store (or farm stand). Admittedly, I would say I am way more intense and strict about food quality. What can I say? Food is awesome. (Remember the homemade peppermint patties?)

I cook a lot. Clothes and shopping are actually my third favorite thing to obsess about, with “food” & “music” taking the first and second positions, though I could never decide on which is first and which is second. My kitchen situation is… a story for another post (and trust me, it’d be a good one) which, in some ways, limits what I can make. I’m working with one burner, a toaster oven, and a Weber charcoal grill. This is my life!

But challenges are good, and making one-pot meals from pantry items and a few fresh ingredients keeps costs and dirty dishes down, which is good because washing dishes is my #1 Least Favorite Activity.

Beano, of all brands, decided to challenge me to face my gut. By that, I of course mean take their Beano + Dairy Defense for a spin and see how it fared on my love of all things cruciferous & legume. (Cruciferous veggies include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage… You see where I’m going with this!)

I’ve haven’t always had a sensitivity to dairy, but I definitely do now. My only blood-related sibling is quite lactose-intolerant, and when I hit the age of 24 or so, my morning lattes started making me feel like a zeppelin around 11am. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include gas, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhea. I do not want any of those things!

Now, I have since given up cow’s milk in exchange for almond milk at home, but lattes from the coffee shop are still 2% dairy milk, and you will have to pry cheese and yogurt from my cold, dead hands because this Body By Cheese doesn’t make itself.

In addition to that, my love for beans knows no bounds. I grow my own, I soak my own, and I use them in everything from salads to cookies (stay tuned for more on this…), I can’t imagine my life without them. I also keep a hefty stack of canned beans around because I have not yet mastered the soft, mushable texture of canned beans when I cook my own, and there’s something so nice about not spending 1.5 days making beans! Open can, receive beans. Now that is luxury.

So for my first Beano challenge, I decided to show off one of my favorite, super-quick, super-cheap recipes that uses one of my favorite beans: chickpeas!

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

This dish has many names: Chana masala, chole, curried chickpeas, chickpeas in tomato gravy… The list goes on and on. (The fact that chickpeas also go by “garbanzo beans” helps the name pile!) Basically, it’s a vegan stew with Indian flavors and a bright flash of tomato and cilantro. Pretty damn delicious and pretty damn good for you, too!

The first time I made this, I did it the really, really hard way: I cut onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and chile peppers and hand ground them into a paste with a mortar & pestle. That was tedious, messy, kind of fun, and bent my hand into a “holding a pestle” shape for about 20 minutes after I was done.

Smashed Garlic

This time, I did it the quick & dirty way, and while the texture was more smooth (not necessarily a bad thing), it was pretty comparable! Traditionally, chana masala also has mango powder (sounds awesome) and crushed pomegranate seeds (what?), but we don’t have a very big “weird fruit preparations” budget, so we’ll have to skip it this time around.

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

Chana Masala / Curry Chickpeas

Serves 2-3


1 or 2* 15oz cans of chickpeas / garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce (diced or crushed tomatoes would work here, if you already have them)
1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable is good – I used coconut oil)
1/2 an onion, diced small
Quarter-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled & minced
3-5 cloves of garlic, peeled & minced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tsp red chili flakes (more if you are into spice!)
1/2 c of water
Handful of cilantro / coriander, chopped

* Use one can of chickpeas for a saucier version, or two cans for chunky. For this recipe, I used one can. (Great if you have bread to go with!)


1. Start by heating up a saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the chopped onion and saute until they’re a little translucent and maybe look a little slimy (in a good way).
2. Add the garlic & ginger, and saute until it smells crazy.
3. At this point, add all of your spices – curry, garam masala, and the red chili flakes. Mix it around and cover the onions with it. It’s going to look dirty, but it’s going to heat up and toast the spices a little bit, which boost the flavor!
4. Then we add the tomato sauce.
5. Then the chickpeas followed by the water! Let them simmer together for a little bit and let the flavors hang out and condense. Leave it for about 20 minutes on low.
6. Once it’s reached a stew-y consistency, shut it off and add half of your cilantro. Mix it in so it can wilt a bit while it cools.
7. Serve hot with additional fresh cilantro on top, and fluffy flatbread on the side, or it’s great over rice/quinoa/grains!

Prep photos

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala Spice Mix

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

* I use as much of the cilantro stem as I can, but I basically mince the bottom few inches of each stalk (stalk?), then roughly chop the leaves so you can still see their shape. 

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

This is an awesome recipe to make in big batches because it keeps really well and is an awesome lunch! I have packed my leftovers in 16oz mason jars to take on the road, and it worked out fabulously. I don’t even mind it cold! For extra luxury, mix some yogurt or sour cream in at the very end. Might as well, since Beano has my back there, too. Bloat-free beans!

Chickpeas / garbanzo beans are really high in protein, and this recipe doesn’t have any added sugar or salt, if you didn’t notice! Not too bad. And beans give a great protein-based energy that is both filling and long-lasting.

This was pretty tame, as far as gas-creating meals go… Stay tuned for my next post, which will definitely take this Beano test up a notch! We’ll see how you deal with cookies, Beano!

#BrokeLife Recipe: Chana Masala / Curried Chickpeas

Thanks to Beano for sponsoring this post, and giving me the opportunity to share some of my favorite healthy, budget recipes!


Probably watching Netflix.